Closing out an interview with Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Fox News's Steve Doocy turned to the camera to entice viewers to stick around through the commercial on Friday morning.
“Straight ahead,” Doocy said, “critics won't admit it, but President-elect Trump is already making America's inner cities livable again.”
That assertion, ascribing improvements to the “inner cities” to the man who was at that point not yet the president, was a bold one. It seems hard to measure: What counts as the “inner city”? What form did those improvements take? How did Trump earn the credit?
To answer those questions, the hosts of “Fox and Friends” welcomed Brunell Donald-Kyei, Trump's “diversity liaison.” Trump tends to use the term “inner cities” interchangeably with “places black people live,” and Donald-Kyei was on-set to help explain how the president-elect was already making the lives of black Americans better. (Black Americans, you may recall, overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton in November, though Trump at one point thanked them for not coming out to vote in large numbers.)
Well, not exactly to answer those questions.
After Doocy introduced Donald-Kyei, co-host Brian Kilmeade offered the first question.
“So many people in the African American community seem to be uneducated about what Donald Trump intends to do,” Kilmeade said. Donald-Kyei, who is black, offered that lesson.
Yes. Well, we know that during the campaign he said, “Look, I'm going to put $100 billion into the inner cities over the next eight years. Not only that, school choice is going to be on the table — not just for African Americans but for all of our American children. He said he is going to put, you know, investment into communities where they have been starved. They have waited on life support for the Democratic Party, many of them 50 years, 40 years, 80 years and still no recovery, no help, no relief. And so we know that he has made that pledge and that I expect that he will follow through on that.
Two pledges there: $100 billion into the inner city and school vouchers. The $100 billion comes from a November speech in Charlotte, where Trump promised to end spending on climate change, yielding that much over eight years. That money would be spent “to help rebuild the vital infrastructure, including water systems, in America’s inner cities.”
Donald-Kyei also conflates “black Americans” with “inner cities.” In October, The Atlantic cited numbers from a researched at Brookings Institution about the extent to which that was the case. Census Bureau data indicate that 36 percent of black Americans live in cities — though not necessarily the “inner city.” Thirty-nine percent, the plurality, live in suburban areas. The remainder are in smaller metropolitan or rural areas. Those numbers have shifted in recent years; black Americans used to live more heavily in urban areas. In 1990, 57 percent of black Americans lived in large cities. This is the tail end of the Reagan era, the period that seems to define much of Trump's political thinking.
Oh, also: Note that Donald-Kyei didn't offer any evidence that Trump has already improved “inner city” life for the better.
Fox co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Donald-Kyei to share her message to critics, “especially in the African American community or in the inner cities,” who aren't giving Trump a chance.
“We have a builder and a doer going into office,” she replied. “If you want to know who Donald Trump really is, look in your town. Downtown. You see Trump towers. You see the evidence of what and who Donald Trump is. And that lets us know that he is results driven.”
She continued. “Donald Trump is showing us through his golf courses, his towers, his hotels everywhere that he is a results-driven person,” she said. “So what I would say to them is: Look for the results. Wait for the results. Expect results.”
Many of the properties that bear Trump's name, of course, are licensing deals. Developers pay Trump for the use of his name, though he has little to do with the project itself.
Doocy pressed Donald-Kyei to explain further. “That's just it,” he said. “So many people have been burned by politicians in the past. How do you know he's actually going to do these things?”
“He's a people-tician, not a politician,” Donald-Kyei replied. But, she said, she already gave the “perfect example.”
“A lot of politicians do a lot of talking but you don't see the evidence of it,” she said. “In downtown Chicago, I see the evidence of Donald J. Trump is, because there is a Trump Tower almost as big as our Willis Tower down there.”
(That 98-story tower in Chicago actually is owned by Trump. The 108-story Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the United States, is about 280 feet taller than Chicago's Trump Tower.)
“All you have to do is look around,” Donald-Kyei continued. “But in the long run, in his heart, he said that he wants to help the nation and to make the nation great again. So let's let him do it.”
With that, the interview ended.
Doocy's assertion that Trump was already making the inner city livable again doesn't seem to have been backed up with any evidence. But that doesn't matter. The claim was already out there for pre-inauguration viewers. Donald Trump, already getting results for black America.
Under the segment, a static chyron. "'Inner' turmoil,” it read. “Trump: Time to focus on crime in the cities.”